Choose home contractors with extreme care

A change is as good as a holiday, they say, and this is the thinking behind many homeowners’ decisions to make alterations to their properties. But there is also big money at stake if the work is not done properly.
“At the moment, a very strong driver for home improvements is the difficulty in obtaining bond finance,” says Harcourts Africa CEO Richard Gray. “Many people who might otherwise have moved to a bigger or more luxurious property just don’t want to go through the hassle and anxiety of applying for a new bond, so they are staying put and upgrading their existing homes.
“And they are further persuaded by the high costs of relocation, including transfer duty, bond registration costs and legal fees, which on a R1m property, for example, are now around R45 000, excluding the agent’s commission to sell an existing house. You can make quite a lot of improvements for that.”
The trend is reflected, he says, in the latest FNB Property Barometer, which shows big increases in the number of homeowners who are now fully maintaining their homes (35,5%, up from 28% in 2009) and those who are maintaining and making some improvements (36,3%, up from 31,5% in 2009) – but also shows that almost 70% of those spending money on their properties are doing so for their own convenience and not because they are planning to sell.
“Meanwhile, although Stats SA recorded a drop in the square metreage of home additions and alterations last year, the work completed was still worth a large amount – some R7,4m – and plans were passed for a further R15,4m worth of such work over the next year or two.
“In other words, there is a lot of homeowners’ hard-earned money at stake here, and the situation is exacerbated by the fact that residential building costs did not come down in line with the drop in home values during the recession. Indeed, they rose more than 10% last year, taking the average cost per square metre to around R6800.”
Consequently, says Gray, homeowners need to be very careful when hiring building contractors. “Not being experts in the field, most people tend to focus on project duration and cost, when their first consideration should be the track record of any home improvement company they talk to.
“Bearing in mind that stories of a pleasant building experience, where everything ran smoothly, all was done to the satisfaction of the property owner and the project was completed on time and within budget are few and far between, they should firstly insist on recent references from former customers and be sure to contact them personally and hear what they have to say before committing to any contract.” 
In limiting your risk, he says, it is also important to establish whether the contractor is a member of the relevant industry association, how long the company has been in business and how many similar projects it has successfully completed. Other vital questions to ask are whether or not the contractor has insurance against injury and whether the people doing the work will be his employees, subcontractors or casual labourers.

  Comment on this Article

  Please login to post comments

Post to my facebook wall
Characters remaining

    Latest Property News
    • 16 Jan 2018
      The start of the new year is symbolic of new beginnings. A good time to take stock of one’s possessions as well as how necessary they actually are. However, seeing as the process may appear daunting – a plan goes a long way.
    • 16 Jan 2018
      The Western Cape is still in the throes of a severe drought and many households have to adjust the way they use and save water. It is a little more complicated in sectional title schemes, however, as it is not that easy to implement grey water systems for multiple users and it is also difficult to monitor water usage accurately if there are no separate water meters
    • 15 Jan 2018
      In ideal rental situations, when a lease is signed the tenant will stay for the full duration of his lease without any complications and the landlord will uphold his obligations, creating a win-win situation for tenant and landlord.
    • 15 Jan 2018
      The Atlantic Seaboard’s housing market has stoically withstood the brunt of the growing economic and political instability, consistently achieving double digit growth way above the national average, however, in 2017 South Africa’s most resilient market finally began to yield to the pressure.
    • 15 Jan 2018
      Sectional title insurance can be a little confusing and, as a new owner, you may be tempted to just assume your body corporate has you covered. While this may be the case, understanding the extent of your coverage and your personal liability is the only guaranteed way to protect yourself against potentially costly oversights.
    • 12 Jan 2018
      After an exceptionally good 2016 during which the Winelands residential market outperformed the national average by a considerable margin, 2017 was marked by a difficult winter which saw a notable slump in sales and demand.
    • 12 Jan 2018
      Small spaces can make a big impact. Irrespective of size, an aesthetically pleasing outdoor space can be a major selling point for prospective buyers. “Even if the outdoor area is small and only enough to sit and have a cup of coffee, it might just be the feature that makes the stand out from others in the neighbourhood,” says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
    • 12 Jan 2018
      The boom of the digital age has opened up many doors to the way we buy and sell property. In the past we used to pop out and pick up the latest copy of the property magazines available, today we switch on the PC or grab our smart phones as online property portals & Facebook has become the new ‘go-to’ for anything, including shopping for your new home from the comfort of your couch.
    Subscribe to the MyProperty Newsletter

    Last Name  
    Email Address  
    Email Frequency
    Share this Page

    For Sale Property
    Rental Property
    More Options
    Connect with us